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7 Questions with Robert Craven
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Robert Craven
Name: Robert Craven
Current title: Founder
Current organisation: Grow Your Digital Agency (GYDA) Initiative
Help agency owners and founders to grow their agencies so they get to lead the lives they want to lead.
Work with the top independent agencies in Europe, as advisor to their boards. Program Director for Elevator Program for Google Partners. Speak in every continent!
Set up first business at 21.
Have been head of entrepreneurship/consulting at Warwick as well as program director at Cranfield and Toulouse Business Schools.
Author of 10 books, lead several boards.
Live with my wife and two Jack Russell dogs. I have 3 kids who have escaped home to live their own lives.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Get all our ducks in a row - Getting messages to consistent from the top to the bottom
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I currently run a small tight boutique business which is far more satisfying and rewarding (less politics) and more connection with clients.
In the past it was being the right person in the right place
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Up at about 6
Exercise. Reding, Walk dogs.
1 45 minute session working on the business before looking at emails etc
Preview the schedule and get clarity about the 1 thing I will achieve that day (and there others I will progress)
I have no to do list and schedule all activities including numerous buffer times to manage the rest of the day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
If people can't answer you in 10 words then they may be talking rubbish. This is true of me as a leader. Clarity is the key to everything.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
It has changed or rather it has focused everything I do.
The simple premise is to ask (each day, week, month quarter etc) "What is the one thing that if I did it would make everything else less necessary or unnecessary?"
It is like 80/20 on steroids.
It aids your questioning technique. It aids your planning. And your coaching. And your decison-making.
It is incorporated into all of the books that I have written.
It is incorporated into the DNA of all the agencies that I have chaired and worked with. A game-changer.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Culture and values are at the heart of the organisation. This is underpinned by being really clear about what success looks like and measuring the right stuff along the way.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Speed is everything.
The larger the organisation, the greater the drag of systems, bureaucracy and politics.
However, with speed comes errors.
I believe the cost of speed-related errors can be far less than the cost of inertia-related errors. If there is clarity about purpose (AKA starting with the end in mind).
A trivial example which gets repeated multiple times:
I arrived at a conference for 4,000 people, 24 hours before launch. It looked like nothing had been started. But by opening time, 4,000 people were welcomed, fed. entertained, educated...
Yes there was a lot of prep work in advance but not the usual 6 months lead-in... The conference concept from unformed idea to opening was only 6 weeks.
Mor often than not, things can be done in 25% of the time that everyone else does things. And the energy and excitement of operating at speed forces decisions... It is like the difference between skiing slowly and quickly: the faster you go the less you see every single detail but often (and with growing confidence) you don't need to. And of course, all this can come together if there is absolute clarity about the purpose!